Wanderlust: Barcelona, Copenhagen, Cologne

So it’s been about 2 months since I have updated this, and I feel incredibly terrible because I promised myself I would update after every trip, but now I have 3 to catch up on.. If you don’t want to read all of this, just look at the pictures. They’ll do just about the same.

First thing’s first, I’m incredibly excited that I have just a week and a half of classes left, and then spring break! This term flew by so quickly, and my time here in London is slowly diminishing. Nevertheless, I have tried my absolute hardest to make the best of every moment I can. It’s a daunting task to even just see all of London in a year, let alone Europe.

But, my first trip of the spring term was Barcelona! Planning just about a week ahead of time, a friend and I were up before sunrise to catch an 8am flight on Friday morning for a jam packed weekend of walking and eating. And we did get a little beach time in, only to have a creepy guy try to sell us coconuts. However, it was so fun to just get out of London and go somewhere completely different and just walk around and immerse yourself in a culture so new and exciting. Barcelona was just an all around fun and colorful city with so many quirky aspects. Did you know, the famous cathedral, Sagrada Familia began construction in 1882, but isn’t expected to be complete until 2026? I think the Spaniards need to cut out their siestas and get this thing moving. But, it was still an incredible sight to see. Unfortunately we didn’t end up going inside because the line was wrapped around the block. I’m pretty sure the outside was more exciting though. We did get a chance to go to Park Guell though, which was another Gaudi creation. Even though we basically climbed to the top of Barcelona on foot, the park gave some incredible views. Anyone planning to go to Barcelona, I highly recommend going here.

Another quirky part of this city was the Latin quarter. Here we found tons of small winding roads full of shops and antiques and food. What could be better. If there was a store we wanted to go in but figured we could find it later, we didn’t. I’m almost positive we didn’t hit the same street twice. We even walked through a movie set in a back alleyway.

On Sunday, we met up with a fellow Lehigh friend who is conveniently studying in Barcelona. She showed us even more of the city and the harbor that we didn’t get a chance to see previously.

However, for being mid January, it was pretty damn warm. We didn’t even bring coats and we could lay on the beach. It was heaven. I’m secretly jealous of you Arielle for having a beach and sunshine!

My next stop just a few weekends ago was Copenhagen! This was an incredibly spur of the moment trip, because all I did was ask another Lehigh friend if he was going to be around that weekend, and when he said yes, I book my flights and didn’t look back. The flights were incredibly cheap. The city however, was not. Should have read the fine print on that one. Denmark still is not on the Euro, so I had to convert a third currency: the Danish kroner. Mind you, the kroner is the exact opposite of the pound. Where the pound is about $1.67 for every pound, the kroner is about $0.17 for each kroner. So, I got pretty good at dividing by 5 at the end of the trip. I was incredibly thankful however that my friend from Lehigh blocked out his weekend just to show me around the city, since I traveled by myself. Friday night I experienced a little bit of the Copenhagen night life, but not too much since traveling always wipes me out. Saturday morning I was up and ready to go at around 9:30am. When I walked outside, there wasn’t a soul to be found. I guess Danish people aren’t morning people. I struggled to find people until I hit the Strøget. I still am unsure how to pronounce these crazy letters, even after my friend taught me about 80 times. However, the Strøget is the longest pedestrian walkway in Europe! So that was pretty neat since most of my paths around the city required me to go through it. I did get a chance to try a Danish pastry, and it was worth every penny of the roughly $5 it cost.

I then joined up with the free walking tour of the city. To all my European traveling friends, please please please go on these free tours. Most major cities provide them, and you only give a small donation at the end, but they are the best tours I have ever been on. I am a junkie for history and free things, so I guess it worked out pretty well. On this tour, we were able to see the royal palaces where I may or may not have seen the Queen of Denmark drive up, so I’m just going to say that I did, Nyhavn (the main canal and incredibly colorful walkway), and places where Hans Christian Andersen lived. So much of my childhood is attributed to this man, and I had no idea until I came to Europe. Go figure. I had no idea that the Little Mermaid was written by him. I presumed it was just a Disney creation since it was such a recent film. After the tour, my friend and I ventured to the north of the city to see the Little Mermaid Statue in the sculpture garden, or Den lille havfrue. I have no idea how to pronounce that one. But it was a surprisingly popular attraction, so most of my pictures include a few strangers’ heads. That day also turned out to be incredibly foggy which made for some really eerie pictures. Oh, and I jumped on a trampoline inside the sidewalk. Not many cities can brag about that one.

And last but not least was my most recent trip this past weekend to Cologne, Germany with two friends from my program. Another last minute trip, but it turned out to be incredibly fun and full of surprises. We arrived Friday night and came out of the Hauptbahnhof station flabbergasted at the beauty of the Cologne Cathedral right in front of us. In the night it was beautiful, and we were so excited to see what it looked like in the daylight. Once we arrived at our hostel, we ventured out for some authentic German food. I did not realize until we arrived at a restaurant that since Cologne is a slightly smaller, less touristy city, the locals would be much less willing to speak English. This made things a little difficult, but we managed, indulging in our schnitzel and fries. We also tried Cologne brewed beer that apparently is only distributed in Cologne. The next day we spent walking around the city and exploring. We found out you can climb one of the towers in the cathedral, so that’s exactly what we did. A grueling 530 spiral stairs later, we made it to the top and got incredible views of the city. After slowly and dizzily making our way back down, we hit some sort of protest with tons of children that we still do not know what it was for. After taking pictures of some signs, the best translation we got was “thank you, midwife.” Not entirely sure what they were rallying for, but we just walked away. We then made our way through many squares and small neighborhoods and passed through a plethora of churches. In one area we saw this one peculiar sign that said “Einbahnstrasse.” We figured it was some attraction, so we followed the signs that lead us in a complete circle. Little did we know at the time that Einbahnstrasse actually means one way. oops. We then walked along the river come dinnertime to find the renowned lock bridge of Cologne. I had no idea more than just Paris started this tradition. Surprisingly, this lock bridge was even more colorful than that of Paris. After we walked across the Rhine river and the bridge, we escalated 30 floors into the Triangle, which gave us even more beautiful views of the city as the sun was setting. By this time we were starving, so we entered the first restaurant that caught our eye. Naturally, we picked the place where the waiter would be the entertainment of the night. Before we even walked in, he was thrilled we were going to come in, and he pinched my friends cheek. We told him we were American, so he got a huge kick out of that and he was messing with us the rest of the night. To our surprise, he knew a lot of American football teams though. The next day we ventured out along the river and went to the Schokoladen Museum, or Chocolate Museum! Definitely a good choice because they gave out free samples and wafers dipped in melted Lindt chocolate. We were in heaven. It was really neat to see the actual process of chocolate, all the way from the cacao tree to the wrapping and packaging stage. We also learned how the hollow chocolates are made, which is pretty neat! Then with a gorgeous day in our hands and a few hours until we had to leave, we decided to walk north and find the Botanical Gardens. Along the way, we found a quirky modern art scultpure garden. The Botanical Gardens were beautiful since everything was just starting to bloom. Unfortunately we only got to see about a third since we had to race back downtown to get our stuff to get to the airport. All in all, it was a beautiful weekend in a not-so-touristy city which was very ideal after all the hustle and bustle of London.

Next stop: spring break!

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